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59 Responses to “Rescue video: Sandy sinks tall ship HMS Bounty replica off NC; 14 saved, 2 missing (updated)”

  1. SouthernFriedScientist says:

    Minor correction. The “last image” was actually taken in 2010 and misattributed on some news outlets. The HMS Bounty facebook page does have a few images from the last couple of days:  http://www.facebook.com/HMSBounty?fref=ts

  2. Ramone says:

    Sad for those two families as well as for the loss of such a beautiful ship.

  3. You have to admire Coast Guard rescue personnel.

  4. xzzy says:

    I say they pay the mythbusters to show up after the storm has passed and raise the ship with ping pong balls.

    Assuming the cost of all those balls is less than the worth of the ship, anyways. Which I would assume to be the case for a ship of that type, even if it is a replica.

  5. Tom McCluskey says:

     I sailed on the Bounty for most of 1999; she was the first square rigger I worked on. She’ll be missed. I do have to wonder why they were out in Sandy, though, as do others in the sailing community: http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/156771-picton-castle-captain-questions-bounty-being-at-sea-during-storm

    It sounds like the two missing crew are Robin Wallbridge, the captain, and a woman named Claudene Christian, who is apparently a descendent of Fletcher Christian, the mutinous first mate from the original Bounty.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2012/10/29/ns-hms-bounty-hurricane-sandy.html

    • John says:

      Tom – I did a double-take when I saw your name. I remember sailing with you in years past; I hope all is well.

      It was a questionable decision for Captain Wallbridge to set sail. However as he was a consummate sailor, I’m going to reserve judgment until there has been a chance to interview the crew…and the owners. Regardless, it is a sad loss for the tallship community. Bounty was a great ambassador for those who choose to make their home on the sea and for traditional sailing vessels. I hope that the captain and Ms. Christian are found safe; I understand they at least had their Gumby suits on.

      • Tom McCluskey says:

        Heh–small world, eh? Nice to run into an old shipmate!

        Definitely no point in making any snap judgements about whether or not it was a good idea to be out there; there’s certain to be a lot of information that we don’t have. And yeah, the gumby suits should up the chances of their being found pretty substantially. Here’s hoping!

        • Xeni Jardin says:

          YOU GUYS, GET A ROOM

          * no seriously, how freakin cool is it that two of you are having this discussion here!?!?

        • Ipo says:

          Uhh yeah, why snap to judgement when Captain Wallbridge took seven days, from launching her on 22 October 2012 from the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard drydock in Maine, to put her on top of the edge of the continental shelve, out between Cape Lookout, North Carolina, and what had been announced to be the biggest storm ever to hit the U.S., and deliberate if that was a good idea. 
          It had to have been obvious to anyone on board that then and there was going to be an exiting place and time for at least last week. 
          I’m all for taking risks, would even have sailed along. 
          Whoever was in charge of the Bounty’s course was not playing safe by crossing Sandy’s T to inshore.   The crew knew this was going to be extreme sport. 
          Sad that it went bad. 

          There is no point in reserving judgement when the facts are on the table.

  6. puppethead says:

    In all seriousness, it’s confusing how power failure led to the sinking of the Bounty. It’s a sailing vessel, after all. Was a lot of the rigging motorized to replace the need for a large crew, or was power needed for something else? Anyone have any explanation?

    • Tom McCluskey says:

       With no power, there’s no way to run the pumps to get the water out of the ship. She was apparently taking about 2 feet of water an hour, which is a good bit, but with a good pump or two, no problem.

    • SouthernFriedScientist says:

      Bilge pumps. Without them the vessel will take on water.

    • DevinC says:

      Likely the rigging was motorized as well.  Square-rigged ships needed a lot of manpower working in dangerous conditions (i.e., standing on a rope sixty feet above deck) to adjust their sails.  The pumps were run by gangs of sailors, especially the lesser-skilled. 
      (http://forum.sailingnavies.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=571 gives a good description, but I’ve been unable to find the picture I was looking for.  http://www.history.navy.mil/USSCTour/photos/ChainPump.JPG will have to do.)  

      • Tom McCluskey says:

         Bounty’s rigging was not motorized. Square riggers certainly take a lot of work–much more than a fore-and-aft rigged vessel–but if you’re not going for peak efficiency, you can run on a bare-bones crew of maybe 30 under sail pretty handily.

        The incredibly large crew complements from the old Navy ships was primarily so that you’d have enough people to work the guns. A standard gun crew would be 7 people or so, and if you’re on a 24 gun ship, there’s almost 170 people right there.

        • ocker3 says:

           Plus replacements

        • Ipo says:

          The original HMS Bounty was equipped with four 4-pounders and ten swivel guns, had 46 officers and men. 

        • DevinC says:

          Thanks for the correction.  I’d forgotten that one wouldn’t necessarily need peak efficiency in all cases.

          The crew complements on age-of-sail ships were highly variable; not every ship could get enough men to fight both sides of the ship at once.  

  7. This replica had an auxiliary diesel for propulsion. I’ve had the opportunity to have visited this vessel many times, and watched as it motored into port. A crew of 16 – 17 is not sufficient to handle a vessel of this size under sail alone in these conditions; while she had plenty of labor reducing gear on board, it is not enough. Remember, this vessel was built for the 1962 “Mutiny on the Bounty”, and as such had to comply with maritime safety rules of the day. She could be sailed, purely, but did quite a bit of motoring.
    Have confirmed, though, that they had lost the pumps fairly early this morning. Look at those pictures up there, and you’ll see that the ship only has solid gunwales (railing) from about amidships aft. Forward of that, the deck is fairly open. This is just like the original Bounty, a vessel that was built as a cargo vessel, and sadly this may have been a major factor (vessel had 12 feet of freeboard, and these were 18 foot seas). Incidentally, this replica was 150% larger than the original, as well as the other Bounty replica used in the 1980′s “Bounty”.
    Nonetheless, it saddens me to have lost the ship, but sadder still is the loss of life. 

    • Tom McCluskey says:

      For a full-rigged ship sailing on a long trip, you’d probably want a crew of 30 or so if you were planning for going purely (or even mostly) under sail; you could do it with fewer, but it would be tough.

      I can’t really agree that the lack of gunwales would be a major factor; when you’re in 18 foot seas, you’re running up and down the waves, not having them break over the ship. I’ve been in 20 foot seas on ships very similar to Bounty, and never had a huge wave crash entirely across the deck. The water almost certainly was coming through the seams between the planks; with winds and waves like that, the hull takes a real pounding, and that can flex stuff enough to work the putty and oakum that caulks the seams out, letting water in.

    • zuludaddy says:

      She would have had to comply with current USCG regs in order to have passengers aboard – or to have been chartered for the movies. This would include scantlings and systems like auxiliary propulsion, fire control, and safety-at-sea stuff.  So, I’d argue that that none of the systems were out of date.  If you look closely at the pic of the deck looking forward from the helm, you can clearly see the stanchions and lines necessary for certification – no one would have been swept off the deck, and the crew would almost certainly be clipped in on tethers at all times when offshore…  The size of the crew: she would have been bare-poling it and hove to by this point, so yeah, not a lot of folks necessary on deck (or aloft) for sail handling… I’d be surprised if her standard crew complement was much bigger.  

      Stunning work from the Coasties.

      Best hopes for the missing.  They do have survival suits, so Neptune may yet prove kind… So long, yellow-striped girl…

  8. Boundegar says:

    It was a replica?  They risked their lives for a replica?

  9. Ian Nichols says:

    I have been reading marine accident reports for school (a state maritime academy) and was surprised at how many distressed vessels lost their engines because of the rough weather itself. It makes sense though: when ships start rolling severely, either because of the free surface effect of water taken aboard or because of converging currents, their engine coolant water intake may be interrupted, causing the engines to shut off.  Perhaps it is because of my morbid school reading list, but I wasn’t quite as astonished as Thayer that the Bounty could lose her engines so soon after a maintenance overhaul. 
    Of course, we won’t know what happened until the NTSB report comes out.  Great work by the USCG air crew! I can’t imagine trying to keep a helicopter on station in high winds at such a low altitude or swimming in hurricane-tossed seas as the rescue swimmer did.

    • eldritch says:

      Part of why they use helicopters is because of the old adage – they’re so ugly the ground repels them. Seems the ocean has similar aesthetic tastes much of the time.

      In all seriousness, though, rescue helicopters are brutes. They could almost be said to stay in the air through sheer stubbornness, but it’d probably be more accurate to say they stay in the air through the sheer stubbornness of the engineers that design them. The crew are likewise stubborn, training over and over again to handle every contingency that can be predicted, and probably even some that can’t. It’s a shame they are needed, but since they do exist, one can’t help but be slightly awed by their capabilities and prowess.

  10. rocketpjs says:

    My understanding from the radio report was that there was some complication – they needed to get away from land and had to make some quick decisions.

    I rode through a couple hurricanes in fish boats (trawlers) and wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  Minor breakages and mistakes that are cause for nothing more than a bit of swearing in light seas can become utterly catastrophic in a major storm.

    I imagine the cause of the sinking is going to be a combination of factors.  Usually one thing can go wrong and be handled, but if 2 or 3 things happen at once things can get ugly very quickly – even if they are minor problems on their own.

    Mental note – must give my little 28 footer a going over before next summer’s sailing trip.

  11. trackofalljades says:

    Now that Christian is dead, is the search for “two” crew members continuing…or just the captain? (see update text)

  12. mindfu says:

    I know it was a beautiful ship.

    I would rather hear it was smashed into kindling than hear a single human life was lost trying to save it.

  13. Brian says:

    Prayers for all crew from gunners mate brian, Bill of Rights

  14. mike k says:

    I toured the ship in the 80′s while it was docked in St. Pete Florida. Even as a kid, I thought it was just a beautiful ship. Sad to see her go.

  15. parks4242 says:

    Starting an article like this by delineating this ship merely as a “replica” is demeaning and misrepresentative. Along with the loss of crew and the great distress of their ordeal, the ship itself is no minor loss. I walked on its deck, as did many of the readers who are commenting and I assure you, she was a great sailing vessel and a tremendous loss to all who manned her and those who were privileged to visit.

  16. Planning to “squeeze by” a hurricane is madness.

    • Like Xeni, I’m going to trust the captain’s judgement on this until I hear more. I think you might be overestimating how fast a sailboat (even a tall ship like this) can move. At a certain point, if you were already out at sea, trying to get over and skirt the edge of the storm as much as possible might have been your only option. 

  17. Alex Kerney says:

    Two pics from when she was still on the hard on the 12th.

  18. ferd says:

    The Graveyard of the Atlantic.

    • Cowicide says:

      I was thinking of the same thing.  I used to surf there many years ago and it very nearly took my life off that turbulent coast one dark and stormy day when I was swept out into seas the size of large hillsides.  I was convinced I was going to die in the ocean that day and I wouldn’t wish that dark feeling on anyone.  I heard on the radio another surfer died in those seas earlier but I went out there anyway. That place is most certainly a graveyard and I have lots of respect for it.  Even knowing the risks I went out there and it’s probably too difficult to explain to a land-lubber why.

      I’ve never shared these photos online before, but feel compelled to do so now. I took them with a little yellow waterproof camera a very long time ago very near the time I was almost buried there myself weeks later.  Hatteras Island is one of the loves of my life, but I’ve known for a long time that she’s as dangerous as she is beautiful.

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